Mutual Respect and Care

22 May

{This post is part of a recurring series of thoughts about control and children.}

Maintaining a perception of control frequently requires fear, intimidation, and authority. These run their course in a parent/child relationship quickly. In the beginning, the parent’s perceived authority comes from the difference in simple physical size and strength. If you can pick your child up and set him or her down on another chair, then you obviously have the capacity to intimidate. This is short-lived for most parents, and especially for single moms who have sons. Most of these boys grow taller and stronger than their moms at age 10 or 11 and are beyond physical intimidation. This is a subtle but real change in the relationship, and most mothers will be forced to change and try to adapt, but this is not easy. Definitive change is most generally instigated by a significant confrontation in which the mother is forced to compromise. It can take years to recover, especially if the mother can’t change gears quickly.

Mutual respect and care within a relationship can last forever, while control has no fixed lifespan. It’s just an illusion for a brief period of time. For example, parents may want their kids home early at night in attempt to control the environment in which their kids might become involved for solid and reasonable safety reasons. This is the reality we embrace, not our kids’ reality. Eventually as children get older and more independent, there will be increasingly more environments over which we have no direct control. It is better to attempt to advise our kids how to manage these new environments, watch them carefully, and provide support when they have trouble or screw up. Attempting to eliminate their ability to experience new environments environment through our effort to control on the front side is all but impossible. One of the most challenging times as a parent is deciding when to back off and let them experience their own trouble. Our children have to know, and believe, that we have their back. Parental love and sense of care is a compelling force in helping us provide such support.

Please check back with me on 5/24/2012 for more on this topic! Until then, feel free to let me know if you have any questions or thoughts.

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